Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The yoke's on me

The other day, C & I had just finished watching The Office, and he asked how many episodes were left.  I replied "Only one" and he said "Oh no! It's the last but one!  I'm going to be so sad when it's over."   I burst out laughing, and said "What did you say?" and he repeated "It's the last but one episode?"

Still laughing, I said "You can't say it like that - you say it's the second to last episode".  He thought about it for a minute and then insisted that it was an actual phrase, so we turned to our good friend Google.  And what do you know - it is indeed acceptable to say "last but one".  Looks like English Weekend backfired on me this time!

So that brings me to the question - does anyone out there actually use this? Maybe it's specific to British English?  It just sounds so awkward to me, like someone translated a foreign phrase word-for-word into English.



Blogger Bossi said...

Yes; I wondered what you found funny at first, as it seems so normal to me. Must be British English!

June 9, 2013 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

It's completely normal British English. More likely to be used than "second to last", which sounds a bit awkward to me. You could always compromise on "penultimate" :)

June 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Sounds weird to me, too. I'd have to go with British English usage.

But I do find it funny that for once, it was C who corrected you! ;)

June 9, 2013 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

I agree with Bossi and Veronica. I would only say "last but one". I don't think I've ever said "second to last", which sounds awkward to me! I didn't get what you found funny at first! ha ha

June 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

It's definitely British usage--and perfectly acceptable (except to all us USians, who think it sounds odd)!

June 9, 2013 at 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me I've read that phrase somewhere but it was probably in a British novel set in times long ago. Sounds like, from the other comments, it's still in use today.

As an American from the north-east I would say "second to last".

C probably learned British English here in France; I know Georges did.

June 9, 2013 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Wonky73 said...

I'm an anglophone who's watched thousands and thousands of hours of Brit tv and I aint ever heard nobody say "last but one".

What to the English know about speakin proper merican anyways.

Next they will be misspelling honor or favor and adding extra syllables to aluminum :D

June 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Bossi said...

We say "next door but one" as well, hahaha!

June 9, 2013 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Canedolia said...

It definitely exists, but you have to say "it's the last episode but one." Does that sound less weird to you?

June 10, 2013 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger The Paris Chronicles said...

Just say penultimate. No confusion and it impresses everybody.

June 10, 2013 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Animesh said...

As someone from the land that the Brits ruled for 200 years, I can confirm that "last but one" is something I use :).


June 10, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Ha, that is hilarious - how is it possible that I have never heard any of my BE friends say that before??

June 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Rhino75 said...

Yup, "last but one" sounds right to me so British English it must be! :)

June 10, 2013 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi I just saw your link on a giveaway post .. I did meet you once at a Bloggers meal back in 2009 ..

Everytime I read something like this , it makes me question my own English ,, British English , which I speak everyday ,, I am going to ask my husband and family ,, I am sure we say that , definitely not the second to last .

June 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Jadie said...

We all know what we mean when we say, "it's almost over, all but one'" but the specific phrase C used isn't colloquial, even if it's "correct." But isn't it funny how such small nuances make a huge difference?!

June 11, 2013 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I think i would say next to last.

June 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I'm in Australia and have never heard that phrase used.
Here we don't say "second to last" but we do say "second last".

June 14, 2013 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

And, in the title do you really mean 'yoke', or did you mean to say 'yolk'?

June 14, 2013 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Jamie - how interesting that you don't use it in Australia!

And I was trying to make a pun and combine yolk and joke - you know, as a reference to the phrase "to have egg on one's face." But as usual, I've only managed to confuse someone. ;)

June 14, 2013 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger HUBBERT13 said...

The correct way to say last but one is penultimate.

June 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Sara Louise said...

That sounds like something my husband would say :)

June 18, 2013 at 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say penultimate, or last but one. x

June 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home